Zope/Plone - Is it the right solution?

Discussion in 'Python' started by kbperry, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. kbperry

    kbperry Guest

    Hi everyone,
    I am currently a student, and for our HCI class project we are
    redeveloping our CS website. I attend a very large university (around
    30,000 students), and the CS site will need to be updated by many
    people that don't have technical skills (like clerical staff).

    The biggest problem with the current site is that not enough people
    have access to update it. Since I love python, these seemed like
    viable solutions.

    1) Is Zope/Plone overkill for this type of project?

    2) Why use Plone vs. straight up Zope?

    3) Is there a way to get over the steep learning curves (that I have
    read about)?
    kbperry, Feb 21, 2006
    #1
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  2. kbperry

    Chris Lasher Guest

    You may want to look at either of the popular frameworks, TurboGears
    http://www.turbogears.org/ or Django http://www.djangoproject.com/

    I have very little experience with both, but I decided to try learning
    the Django framework after watching the Snakes and Rubies videos. (See
    http://www.djangoproject.com/snakesandrubies/ ) I am working my way
    through the Django tutorials and am very impressed and looking forward
    to deploying it on my own site. The admin interface that you get
    basically "free" is a very slick touch, especially with all the
    widgets. My recommendation is to check out Django's admin interface
    (see Adrian Holovaty's presentation of Django in Snakes and Rubies and
    http://www.djangoproject.com/documentation/tutorial2/ ) and see if that
    won't do the trick for allowing easy content contribution without the
    contributors having to know any of the Python, HTML, or CSS behind the
    pages.

    Chris
    Chris Lasher, Feb 21, 2006
    #2
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  3. "kbperry" wrote:

    > I am currently a student, and for our HCI class project we are
    > redeveloping our CS website. I attend a very large university (around
    > 30,000 students), and the CS site will need to be updated by many
    > people that don't have technical skills (like clerical staff).
    >
    > The biggest problem with the current site is that not enough people
    > have access to update it. Since I love python, these seemed like
    > viable solutions.
    >
    > 1) Is Zope/Plone overkill for this type of project?
    >
    > 2) Why use Plone vs. straight up Zope?
    >
    > 3) Is there a way to get over the steep learning curves (that I have
    > read about)?


    do you want to build a web application, use a ready-made CMS, or is the goal to
    easily get lots of information on to the (intra)web ?

    if the latter, a modern wiki with good access control could be worth investigating:

    http://moinmoin.wikiwikiweb.de/
    http://moinmoin.wikiwikiweb.de/HelpOnAccessControlLists

    (for performance, you may want to run the wiki behind mod_proxy)

    if you want a ready-made content management system, pick Plone.

    if you want to build your own web application, you know Python reasonably
    well, you don't want much of a learning curve, and you want to start right now,
    pick Django.

    (I'm now leaving the microphone to the "pick me pick me!" crowd ;-)

    </F>
    Fredrik Lundh, Feb 21, 2006
    #3
  4. kbperry

    kbperry Guest

    Well,
    I guess our main goal in this class is to improve usability and user
    experiences at the site.

    While we want to improve our site visually and make it more usable to
    the prospective students, the site needs to be easily updated. I don't
    think that I am looking for a wiki.

    I will definitely check out Django and turbogears.

    Thanks a ton for the info!
    kbperry, Feb 21, 2006
    #4
  5. It depends on how much time do you want to spend fighting with the
    framework.
    I usually do not recommend Zope, unless you want to make a career as a
    Zope
    consultant. If you have to interact with a relational database, your
    life with Zope
    may be hard: http://www.jrandolph.com/blog/?p=23

    For easy of use nothing beats CherryPy, but I am not sure how stable it
    is.
    Quixote is nice and small, and pretty easy to use too.
    Many likes Django and TurboGears.

    Zope and Twisted are for people who have a lot of time to invest.

    Michele Simionato
    Michele Simionato, Feb 21, 2006
    #5
  6. kbperry

    Rene Pijlman Guest

    Michele Simionato:
    >I usually do not recommend Zope, unless you want to make a career as a
    >Zope consultant.


    You have a point there.

    >If you have to interact with a relational database, your life with Zope
    >may be hard:


    And if you have to interact with flat files, your life with an RDBMS may
    be hard. Zope contains a full-fledged post-relational object database
    called ZODB.

    The time it took me to learn to program with it (outside of Zope) is less
    than 1% of the time I've spent learning the relational model and SQL.

    Get your data out of those silly rows and columns, and put it in
    first-class objects!

    --
    René Pijlman
    Rene Pijlman, Feb 21, 2006
    #6
  7. kbperry

    N.Davis Guest

    kbperry wrote:
    I attend a very large university (around
    > 30,000 students), and the CS site will need to be updated by many
    > people that don't have technical skills (like clerical staff).

    That is exactly the kind of thing Plone is good at. A good match I would
    say.

    Check out http://plone.org/documentation/faq

    The answers to your other questions can be found there.
    N.Davis, Feb 21, 2006
    #7
  8. Rene Pijlman wrote:
    > Get your data out of those silly rows and columns, and put it in
    > first-class objects!


    Well, there are pros and contras in the choice of a relational database
    vs an object
    database. Most of the time, there is no choice, since you have a legacy
    relation
    database to work with. Also, there are many cases where a relational DB
    is the
    right choice. So I would say that most of the times one has to do with
    relational DBs
    anyway, so it is a good investement to learn them. The ZODB is easy to
    use,
    but when it gives errors, it is not obvious at all to understand what
    is happening.

    Michele Simionato
    Michele Simionato, Feb 21, 2006
    #8
  9. kbperry

    Rene Pijlman Guest

    kbperry:
    >1) Is Zope/Plone overkill for this type of project?


    No, Plone is an excellent CMS for your purpose.

    >2) Why use Plone vs. straight up Zope?


    Plone is an out-of-the-box CMS for non-technical editors, Zope is the
    underlying infrastructure for developers.

    >3) Is there a way to get over the steep learning curves (that I have
    >read about)?


    There is a steep learning curve when you need to develop custom content
    types, application code, integrate other databases and so on.

    But when all you want is a CMS for a community-type website, Plone is
    fine. I recommend this book, it probably contains all you need to know:
    http://plone.org/documentation/manual/definitive-guide
    (it's available as web pages and on dead tree as well)

    --
    René Pijlman
    Rene Pijlman, Feb 21, 2006
    #9
  10. kbperry

    Tim Parkin Guest

    Fredrik Lundh wrote:
    > "kbperry" wrote:
    >>I am currently a student, and for our HCI class project we are
    >>redeveloping our CS website. I attend a very large university (around
    >>30,000 students), and the CS site will need to be updated by many
    >>people that don't have technical skills (like clerical staff).
    >>
    >>The biggest problem with the current site is that not enough people
    >>have access to update it. Since I love python, these seemed like
    >>viable solutions.
    >>
    >>1) Is Zope/Plone overkill for this type of project?
    >>
    >>2) Why use Plone vs. straight up Zope?
    >>
    >>3) Is there a way to get over the steep learning curves (that I have
    >>read about)?

    >
    > do you want to build a web application, use a ready-made CMS, or is the goal to
    > easily get lots of information on to the (intra)web ?
    >
    > if the latter, a modern wiki with good access control could be worth investigating:
    >
    > http://moinmoin.wikiwikiweb.de/
    > http://moinmoin.wikiwikiweb.de/HelpOnAccessControlLists
    >
    > (for performance, you may want to run the wiki behind mod_proxy)
    >
    > if you want a ready-made content management system, pick Plone.


    I'd heartily agree with Fredrik on this.. If you just want to manage a
    set of interlinked documents (i.e. content oriented web pages) then a
    wiki will get you going and contributors updating stuff faster than
    pretty much anything going.

    Plone will give you more structure (allow you to create your own types
    of conten or object e.g. courses, buildings, whatever) with more effort
    and more maintenance.

    Rolling your own with any framework out there will inevitably give you
    the most flexibility (you can do pretty much what you want) traded off
    against a lot larger investment in time at the start and ongoing.

    If you want it to be a project, there isn't much to get your teeth into
    in creating a wiki based site (you can write you own modules and
    plug-ins I suppose). Plone/Zope3 would challenge you more and you'd have
    a chance to learn some different approaches to common cs problems.

    If I were to recommend based on you wanting a project, I'd say zope3. If
    it's based on getting some content up and editable quickly then I'd say
    wiki. If you're aiming for a structured website to handle some of the
    typical course info (handling events, rooms, dates, etc) I'd recommend
    plone.

    Tim Parkin

    p.s. The steep learning curve should only be if you want to do something
    to 'extend' the plone/zope system. As long as you are happy with the
    defaults for common components you shouldn't have too much to learn.
    Tim Parkin, Feb 21, 2006
    #10
  11. kbperry

    kbperry Guest

    Rene and Tim,
    Thanks for the help! I am glad that I didn't rule out Plone yet
    because I was able to download and install quickly. My "site" was up
    and running very quickly.

    For this class we are more focused on the HCI/usability stuff than we
    are the coding. I have plenty of other classes that focus on the
    coding. I am hoping that we could build an extension or two using
    python (if needed), and I would like to completely redesign the main
    "skin," but other than that I need the CMS tool so Plone looks like a
    great fit.

    I tried installing Zope last night, but when I did, I couldn't find out
    how to even start it for about an hour after searching. I was worried
    that if I went the Plone/Zope route, then I would need to know both.
    It looks like Plone just makes Zope much easier to work with.
    kbperry, Feb 21, 2006
    #11
  12. kbperry a écrit :
    > Well,
    > I guess our main goal in this class is to improve usability and user
    > experiences at the site.
    >
    > While we want to improve our site visually and make it more usable to
    > the prospective students, the site needs to be easily updated. I don't
    > think that I am looking for a wiki.


    Don't overlook this solution. A wiki can be made good-looking, and you
    just can't beat it when it comes to ease of use for non-technical
    persons (and for technical persons too...). Modern wikis like MoinMoin
    or the Wiki part of Trac are also very extensibles.

    For the record, for our own extranet, we're actually switching from CPS
    (a very-close-to-Plone CMF) to... Trac - there's not even a subversion
    repository around, but we use the Wiki/Ticket/Roadmap combo to manage
    our current projects.

    Now Plone is a pretty good CMS for Portal-like sites, so it may be what
    you're looking for...
    Bruno Desthuilliers, Feb 21, 2006
    #12
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